Tuesday, May 17, 2011

All Around Seoul: Nami Island

Background: Nami Island (Namiseom) is the filming location of the ever popular Winter Sonata. I knew about the drama, though I wasn't really a fan. During the airtime I thought I watched the episodes here and there...and then later I just checked out how the ending went. Well, sad dramas aren't really at the top of my list. Still, it'd be really crappy if I don't know anything about the storyline and characters. What kind of a kdrama fan would I be? ;-) 

Note: Nami Island isn't exactly a part of Seoul. It's located in Gangwon-do, practically in another state. Thank goodness for the excellent transportation system, the journey to Nami Island from Seoul seemed like it's just another stop off the train. Still, the trip was a long one. It took close to 2 hours one-way from our place at Hong-Ik University to the Gapyeong station where we disembarked from the train (line transfers included). 

Another note: Nami Island is indeed an island, but it is in the middle of the Bukhan River (Bukhangang) instead of the sea. Just so you know. 

How to get there: Take the Seoul Metro and transfer to Korail's Chuncheon line at Cheongnyangni. When you reach Sangbong, get out and follow the crowd towards an interchange. Both lines are going parallel, and both will be stopping at Gapyeong. Try to get on the train with less stops. This could save you a bit of time, but it should still take about 1.5 hours to reach the destination. At Gapyeong, take a bus or a taxi towards Gapyeong Wharf. You can also say Namiseom and the driver would understand. At the wharf, you've gotta buy a return ticket to the island. Just board the ferry and you'd be on your way to a very scenic location :)  

Point of observation: Gangwon-do is famously known for it's mountains and beautiful sceneries.  All the train stops along this line directs toward a hiking place or the likes of it. You'd find many fashionably-dressed hikers (definitely a Korean thing) getting off these stations. A large number of these hikers are well above their 40s, and yet they're still strong and healthy. 

The Journey
It was Sunday. Our adventure to Nami Island began early in the morning while everybody else in Seoul were fast asleep. We caught the early trains, got confused in the middle, asked some officers who didn't speak English, maintained in getting confused, and got into more trains. As soon as we saw loads of harabujis, helmonis, ahjussis and ahjummas in hiking gear we thought "This is it!". We couldn't be wrong anymore. 

The train ride from Sangbong to Gapyeong was a long one and it was full with hikers, mostly those grandpas and uncles (now where was the smart, handsome young man I was supposed to meet? Sighs). It's only appropriate to give away your seat to the elders, sickly,  pregnant women and parents with kids. But in Korea's case where people live well into their 70s and 80s, it means youths like us (ahem!) would almost never get the chance to sit. Talk about leg pains..hhmphh..  

Throughout the journey, a salesman moved from coach-to-coach promoting his merchandise. This uncle was selling raincoats and back-supporting belts. You should see how he demonstrated the tear-proof raincoat, it was as if he really meant to tear it LOL! I was amazed by the very fact that 1) such sales were allowed; and 2) the sales pitch were done in a proper manner (read: not forcing you to buy or getting angry if you don't buy).  

I finally managed to secure a seat many minutes later, next to an old guy whom we suspected a bit drunk. Earlier, we saw him talking to himself, rambling about god knows what. I was hesitant, but he called me over to sit next to him. He then started the conversation, in Korean of course. I tried to explain that I know nuts about what he's saying, but that didn't stop him from talking or telling stories. After knowing that we're going to Nami, he was helpful in providing some info and also an emergency number.  Little did we know that he planned to go to Nami with us!!!  
At Gapyeong, we got off the train together and he showed us the way to the wharf. He then took a taxi together with us. He even paid for our taxi fare. Haiyoo, this was serious business. 
At the wharf, we bought the tickets and queued to board the ferry. Errr... we didn't buy a ticket for the mister....and apparently he didn't either! Was he expecting us to buy for him? I don't know! The guy was held from boarding and we didn't know what happened to him after that. I felt guilty...and creepy at the same time.  

Back to Nami Island...
Other than ferry, you could also take a flying fox and wheez your way to the island. Ohhh, I so wished I did that! 
Off to Naminara Republic :)

You can choose to cycle, take the tour bus or walk around the island. Considering our photography needs, we decided to explore the island by foot :D

It's such a beautiful place! The scenery, the ambience and the various colours of nature...truly romantic. We took loads and loads of photos! 

Not to forget, since this was indeed a Winter Sonata prime location there were places marking the spots to scenes from the drama. 

All this photo-taking, added up with the cool weather made us really hungry. Luckily there's a Cafe Yeonga jiga that served halal 'shaken rice' (Nasi Goncang in Malay, endorsed by Mawi). It's basically rice with kimchi and egg. You gotta shake it while it's hot, baby! There were also kimchi pancakes and other stuff that you might wanna try. 

After lunch, we continued with more photo session while walking towards the Nami Wharf. 4 hours at Nami Island was such a joy. Hhmm...maybe I'd sit down and watch Winter Sonata for real this time :-P 


  1. thank for your sharing vacation trip photo .
    wanna to there.

  2. ahhhh... rasa macam nak pergi lagiii...btw, remember me???

  3. best kan Korea?! Sure ingat Ibu AAA...bertemu kita di bumi kpop hehehe...


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